Para Swimming is the sport term used for swimmers with a physical, visual or intellectual impairment. The first step towards being a para swimmer is to join a swimming program. Once able to swim and race the next step is for a swimmer is to be classified.
Classification identifies the swimmers abilities. Abilities are reviewed as the swimmer grows and improves their swimming skills. There are three classification levels; provincial, national and international.
The steps to classification are different if the swimmer has a physical, visual and intellectual impairment.
In Alberta physical classifications are done every November as a part of the Para Swimming Camp.
For physical classifications swimmers should meet the following requirements. Swimmers should be aged 11 and older and attending sanctioned swim meets. Swimmers with a physical impairment need to be able to swim a 100m IM continuously, for extreme physical impairments this may mean 75m IM continuously. Each of the swimmers strokes must be recognizable. Swimmers aged 10 & under must meet the above and get permission from Swimming Canada’s Head of Classification.
Once a swimmer is classified they will be identified by a series of numbers and letters that relate to their abilities for each stroke.
|Physical Classifications = 1-10||S = Freestyle, Backstroke, Butterfly|
|Visual Classifications = 11-13||SB = Breaststroke|
|Cognitive Classification = 14||SM = Individual Medley|
Once a swimmer is classified their information will be available on Swimming Canada's classification database so that meet managers and officials can confirm any rule exceptions for the swimmer.
Competitions for Para Swimmers
The first competitions for Para swimmers will be club meets. Once a swimmer has achieves their Alberta ‘A’ para standard they will be eligible to attend the provincial meets. Age Group swimmers (aged 14 & under) attend the Age Group Championships in March and July. Para Swimmers aged 15 & over attend the Alberta Open Series in January and July. The next level of competition is the Can-Am level which is the equivalent of Para Nationals.